WASHINGTON — Rep. Collin Peterson on Thursday suggested Congress consider banning caloric soft drinks from being purchased with food stamps as a way to address obesity.
Peterson’s comments followed a House Agriculture Committee meeting, in which a panelist suggested the embargo. The hearing was one of many Peterson is holding as an early preview of the 2012 Farm Bill, which includes the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
The exact suggestion Peterson was responding to, as reported by Reuters’ Charles Abbott:
Wellesley College professor and food expert Rob Paarlberg suggested the ban during a hearing to review the 2008 farm law, which includes food stamps as well as crop subsidies. Food stamps help low-income people buy food. One in eight Americans receives food stamps.
The anti-hunger program accounts for 40 percent of Agriculture Department spending and outweighs crop subsidy and land stewardship spending of $10 billion this year.
“I would argue caloric soda should be made ineligible for purchase under SNAP, like tobacco and alcohol,” said Paarlberg, using the new name for food stamps, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. He later said sugary sodas are “a huge part of the obesity problem.”